*The art of jazz will again be celebrated at the 65th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival on September 23-25, 2022 in Monterey, California. Since 1958, generation after generation has come to the longest continuously running-jazz festival in the world to hear performances by legendary jazz musicians, composers and young rising stars.
One of those young rising stars performing at this year’s festival is Samara Joy. Since winning the prestigious Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2019, the New York-based vocalist’s rise has been meteoric. Some refer to her as “the first Gen Z jazz singing star.”
Although in her early twenties, Samara has already performed in many of the great jazz venues in the U.S., in addition to working with jazz greats such as Christian McBride, Pasquale Grasso, Kirk Lightsey, Cyrus Chestnut, and the late legendary NEA Jazz Master Dr. Barry Harris.
With a voice rich and velvety yet precociously refined, her 2021 self-titled debut album on Whirlwind Recordings announced the arrival of a young artist destined for greatness. Her recently-released Verve Records debut, Linger Awhile, makes the case for her to join the likes of Sarah, Ella, and Billie as the next jazz singing sensation known by just one name.
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Music was a pervasive presence for the Bronx native, due to the inspiration of her paternal grandparents, Elder Goldwire and Ruth McLendon, who led the well-known Philadelphia-based gospel group, The Savettes. Her father toured with the renowned Gospel artist Andrae Crouch, and her home was filled with the sounds of not only her father’s songs and songwriting process, but the inspiration of many Gospel and R&B artists, including Stevie Wonder, Lalah Hathaway, George Duke, Musiq Soulchild, Kim Burrell, Commissioned, and more.
Samara’s first exposure to jazz was while attending Fordham High School for the Arts, where she performed regularly with the jazz band, eventually winning Best Vocalist at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington competition. However, jazz wasn’t really her focus until the time came to choose a college. Wanting to attend a state school close to home, she picked SUNY Purchase, gaining acceptance into their acclaimed jazz program, with a faculty that includes many jazz masters.
“My friends were all into jazz and started sharing their favorite recordings with me to check out. The turning point was when I heard both Sarah Vaughan’s version of ‘Lover Man’ and Tadd Dameron’s recordings featuring trumpeter Fats Navarro. I was hooked.”
From this point, she began to pursue her jazz studies with an intense passion, eventually being named the Ella Fitzgerald Scholar and entering and winning the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition.
Winning the Vaughan award was transformational for Samara. “I was suddenly on the jazz radar. It’s still bizarre to think of how fast things have progressed.” Since then, Samara has dug deep to discover her jazz roots, without losing sight of the innate simplicity that makes her sound shine.
To learn more about The Monterey Jazz Festival, please visit montereyjazzfestival.org.
source: Marsha Smith – montereyjazzfestival.org